A statement from this morning’s service at CrossWay Community Church regarding the recent tragic events concerning Goerge Floyd as well as many others.
OUR MISSION (MISSIOLOGY) – “to make maturing followers of Jesus by the power of the gospel…” (CrossWay MKE). We are called therefore to…
- Embody the transforming effects of the gospel.
- To uniquely demonstrate these things to our surrounding society in the precise moments they long and grasp for these things themselves (=witness).
- Also, inasmuch as we are able, to see the transforming effects of the gospel to pervade and impact our surrounding society.
- to obey all that Christ commanded (Mt 28), carrying these things even into the realms of our society.
- to seek the good of our city in which we are exiles, inasmuch as we have opportunity (Jer 29:7).
DOCTRINE OF HUMANITY (ANTHROPOLOGY) – Every person is made in the image of God; every life is valuable; every person and every people is worthy of dignity and just treatment (there are no “lesser” people).
DOCTRINE OF GOD’S LAW – God commands us to love him with all our heart, mind, and strength (=the greatest commandment); and the second is a necessary corollary of the first–that we love our fellow neighbors who bear his image.
DOCTRINE OF GOD (THEOLOGY) – A God of justice, who is righteously furious and wrathful with injustice; who puts himself on the side of those subjected to mistreatment and oppression. And as those who are his, we are called to reflect his character (“to be holy as he is holy”), to care about what he cares about.
The word that best describes how I feel after watching the video of #GeorgeFloyd is “exasperated.” It angers me. I’m sad that this is people’s experience. I feel exhausted by the seemingly unbreaking repetition and continual occurrence of these types of events. I’m disturbed by our societal callousness and at times dismissive or deflective reflexes. And I’m frustrated that justice so often times feels like an uphill battle rather than the grooves of our humanity. I’m grieved that this is the world we live in.
Of course, as I feel this way, I’m also confronted with the reality that my sense of feeling exasperated — as if this is all just some annoyance I might otherwise choose to ignore if I wanted — is contrasted with the experience of many others for whom this is not something they can avoid even if they desire. In other words, I possess the choice to look at this reality square in the eyes and face the discomfort, if I want to. It pains me to do so. And I feel exhausted by it. But it’s a choice I make. Likewise, I possess a certain position that would equally allow me to look away, ignore it, “escape” it, if I so wanted, because it does not directly affect me. For others, this “discussion,” however, isn’t a choice. The issue is thrust upon them whether they like it or not. They can’t just look away and ignore it; they can’t just choose to walk away. It’s their lived-reality.
I don’t know what it’s like to live black in America. And so as I think about this/these events, even as I’m self-aware of my own sense of exasperation, it causes me to think of my black and brown friends and the POC I know, and how their experience is different than mine in these moments–what I can only imagine is the unsettling feeling that they can’t just choose to walk away from this reality like I could if I wanted. This isn’t just the occasional occurrence in our news cycle, here today and gone tomorrow, “on pause” — out of sight and out of mind — until the “next one” pops up.
In Carl Henry’s classic work and magnum opus, God, Revelation, and Authority, Henry describes modern society’s relationship to science as something of a contemporary, modernist religion — “scientism.”
Now, let’s be clear at the outset in case there be any temptation towards a skewed misunderstanding of what he (or I) am saying: Christianity is not opposed to science or modern medicine. In fact, Christianity is the only proper epistemic basis for science. A naturalistic, materialistic worldview has to borrow assumptions from Christianity in order to even make sense and provide a proper epistemological basis for science—in effect, materialistic modernity “colonizes” what is properly Christianity’s, what belongs (epistemologically) to Christianity as sourced in its worldview and belief in a personal God with his orderly creation. Furthermore, Christianity provides a basis for the sort of medical concern for others that a raw evolutionary “natural selection” on its own cannot justify and actually seems to run against (Mother Nature would actually say, “Just let the weak ones die”). But we digress. The point being—we, Christians, of all people should care about science; we care about medicine; and we should care about the best and most responsible ways of addressing this virus. So to be clear, none of what I’m about to say goes against that.
But as Carl Henry described it, “scientism” is a religion of modernity, which seeks “salvation” by attempting to gain absolute mastery over the natural order (the assumed limits of reality), with scientists as the new order of “priests” who mediate this soteriology (salvation) to us in the form of scientific and medical advancements. “If we can control the natural order, we can control our destiny. We can save ourselves from sickness and demise” (let alone the fact that scientific advancements have also made us better at developing ways to more efficiently destroy each other, like atomic bombs). In short, we put our hope in science and medical advancements. Again, not that we deny the benefits of scientific and medical advancement, but on its own, it falls woefully short. And as an ultimate (in effect, “religious”) hope, it proves to be an idolatry that serves our desire to replace God, another iteration of humanism, we might say, that in fact seeks to make us God.
If Carl Henry were alive today then, I imagine he would say something like this: if nothing else, when this Coronavirus is all said and done, and we’re able to look back and see (1) how much we weren’t able to control the material world as we might want, or at least in correspondence to the degree of hope we put in our science and medical knowledge (i.e., a lot, a lot), and (2) how conflicting our understanding of the data inevitably proved to be (just wait), or how wrong some of our methods showed (again, just wait), may it at least go to show us the bankruptcy of science as the “messiah” our society has held it up to be. May this season deconstruct our modernistic idolatries, show them for what they are, that we may more clearly see Christ for who he is, and put our hope (properly) in him.
The current pandemic has caused disruption to our normal lives. This can be a great opportunity, however, for us to recalibrate how we live our lives. At the same time, they can become times where we flounder, and rather than growing we actually regress. Could it be that this pandemic though, in some peculiar way, is–at least in some sense–a gift from God for our spiritual growth? How can we avoid “wasting” this moment?